Janelle Monae: On Failing, Her Body, & Why She Only Wears Black & White
She’s a singer, performer, a Cover Girl, an activist and an artist–all that balled up into one tiny little package that stands at five feet even. But that doesn’t stop the high-energy performer from selling out shows and being an inspiration to working class women everywhere. As a matter of fact, it’s the working class that she aims for with each and everything that she does. Those hard workers just like you and me.
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Below she breaks down why she does what she does.
On Staying Healthy On The Road
“I do a lot of heavy sweating up on stage,” explain Monae. “We do 90-minute shows — I’m moving around and it’s very high-energy. That often becomes my workout, just performing and being onstage. I guess you can say I exercise a lot, but really, I don’t realize I’m getting a workout while I’m dancing onstage because I’m always having so much fun. I try to keep a healthy, balanced diet on the road, though it can sometimes be hard. I try to eat a lot of salads while I’m traveling, but when I need a light, fluffy snack, I reach for my pita chips and hummus.”
“I also drink a lot of water to stay healthy and preserve my voice on the road. I sip a lot, especially when I’m flying, since airplane travel can dry out your voice like crazy. When you use your voice, it is important to have a technique to preserve it. Over the years, I’ve developed a top secret system of warming up before the show and making sure I’m not overusing my voice after — that’s why it’s important to stay quiet post-performance.”
“But in terms of staying fit and healthy, a lot comes from within. The happier you are, the more your beauty comes out. When you have a good heart and positive energy, you and the people around you are better. And that’s the best beauty and health advice you’ll find anywhere.”
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On Why She Always Wears Only Black & White
Sometimes it’s riding pants and suspenders, sometimes it’s a tuxedo; almost always it’s black-and-white. She’s a Cover Girl and always looks #Flawless, but her look isn’t really about fashion. “I have been very vocal about why I wear black and white, why I wear a uniform—it’s to pay homage to the working class,” she says. “People like my mom, who had to leave school early because she was pregnant with me. She was a custodial worker. My dad was in prison and the first job—the only job—he could get was being a trash man.”
On Coming From Nothing
“I was born in Kansas City, Kansas, and I was born in one of the poorest counties — Wyandotte County. Growing up there, my resources were pretty limited, even at school. I always had to work hard. I always had to get a job. My parents were working and I was working. I was helping pay bills. I was getting consumed with grown-up things at such a young age. I was using my money from talent shows to help pay the light bills, just contributing what I could.
“Once I got the opportunities to use my talent and go to school, go to Atlanta and perform and sing, I was able to…